Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like cursing the entire world just because you had to wait for someone. I feel like there are more of us in the world who struggle with patience than those who have mastered the art. And we can see signs of our poor waiting skills everywhere, from the number of people who don’t go to the doctor when they’re sick just because they’d have to sit in the waiting room, to the amount of rage that people show whenever someone tries to cut in line at the grocery store. We clearly need a mandatory “Waiting 101” course.
I believe there are several things that add fuel to fire whenever we find ourselves waiting. The first is if we don’t how long we have to wait for, if we don’t know when what we’re waiting for is finally going to happen. After trying to be patient for a while, you may even start to think that maybe what you’re waiting for is never going to happen after all. Maybe that dinner date plans to never show up. Maybe the ministry of home affairs misplaced your visa application papers and they’re never going to find and process them. Being in the dark like this, not knowing the when or the if, can make waiting 10 times more difficult.
When you ever find yourself in such a waiting situation, it might be a good idea to practice some mind games with yourself. If you’re not sure exactly when something is going to happen, tell yourself it’s going to happen in the next 15 minutes, in the next two days or any other reasonable time period. Make yourself believe that you know how long you have to wait and that sense of “knowing” can make you feel calmer and more patient. And if what you’re waiting for doesn’t happen in the next 15 minutes or two days, you just tell yourself it’s definitely going to happen in the following 15 minutes or two days. And so you keep doing that until you no longer have to wait.
If you’re not sure whether or not what you’re waiting for is actually going to happen, you convince yourself that even if it doesn’t happen, you’re going to make the best out of the situation. You’re going to figure things out like the boss that you are and you’re going to survive.
Another thing that can make waiting quite difficult is when we see there is very slow progress or there is no progress at all. It feels better to be in 100m long queue that moves every minute, than to be in a queue of three people where no one moves for an hour.
In this case, what you may do to avoid feeling like you want to punch a wall is distract yourself. Get into the habit of carrying around a book wherever you go so you can read whenever you have to wait. Download some exciting games on your phone that you can kill some time on. And if you have to wait for a much longer period of time, days, months or even years, distract yourself with new projects. Start learning a language or an instrument, start writing a book, or start a business. Start anything.
Remember, even if it seems like nothing else is moving, time is always moving. And with time, comes change.
And as always, cheers to life!